Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Whatever Happened to Diplomatic Immunity?

[Bayan Jabr, Iraq's Minister of Finance. Is he the bad dude the U.S. military is looking for?]

Today the Washington Post touches on an alarming trend of the U.S. military in Iraq: arresting Iranian diplomats.

President Jalal Talabani has been negotiating openly with Iran for quite some time, so it boggles the mind that we would violate Iran's diplomatic immunity. Sure, we may fear letting Iranian spies operate in Iraq. And allegations are rife that Iran is funnelling concave copper discs into the country, which are used in roadside bombs and destroy Humvees. But arresting diplomats definitely makes us look bad in the international public eye. And arresting the diplomats of our nemesis inches us closer to a potential armed conflict.

On a side note, even if these Iranian diplomats are spies, it's not like America hasn't done the same exact thing. In the 1990s, according to Steve Coll's Ghost Wars, C.I.A. agents posed as diplomats in Sudan to pursue terrorists like Osama bin Laden--which led to heated sabotage attempts and a crazy car chase.

Maybe we should tone down the diplomat arrests--which get plenty of publicity--and investigate politicians like Bayan Jabr, Iraq's Minister of Finance, who headed the Ministry of the Interior and oversaw the Iraqi police when they set up slaughterhouses to torture Sunnis in 2005 and 2006.

Jabr joined the Shia opposition movement in the 1980s and was allegedly a member of the Badr Organization--known back in the day as the Badr Brigade--which was based in Iran during the Saddam years and fought alongside Iran during the Iran-Iraq war of 1980-1988. Now, this is a wild guess, a shot in the dark, but maybe Jabr still has some connections with Iran and a vested interest in a military partnership with the Revolutionary Guards.

Just a thought.

I wrote this one kinda fast, so I overlooked the most important reason why arresting the "diplomat" is bad in this situation: Iran has an excuse to close its borders with Kurdistan, thus starving its economy and people.

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